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Mary Ann Aitken, Untitled (Sherman Brothers Awnings), ca. 1985–89, oil on Masonite, 48 × 48".

Mary Ann Aitken

What Pipeline

Mary Ann Aitken, Untitled (Sherman Brothers Awnings), ca. 1985–89, oil on Masonite, 48 × 48".

“Do I want to make a painting of it. Yes because of the yellow. No, because it’s not my idea; it’s familiar to someone else. Oh, keep the yellow. Make another arrangement.”

This quote was taken from one of Mary Ann Aitken’s sketchbooks from the 1980s, a year after the artist’s death. The hue in question dominates the brightly lit facade depicted in Aitkin’s Untitled (Sherman Brothers Awnings) (all works ca. 1985–89), whose rows of muted-red awnings cast dun-brown shadows on the Naples-yellow building. Aitken used colors reminiscent of everyday objects (yellow like a daffodil, like an egg yolk) in ways that rendered her abstracted views of quotidian scenes unfamiliar.

This exhibition featured eleven paintings, all made during Aitken’s time in Detroit (where she lived from 1985 to 1989). In these, the largest works in the artist’s oeuvre (alternately forty-eight- or twenty-four-inch-square

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